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Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance (by Bob Buford)

Amazon link: Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance

This page from is linked from The Second Half of Your Life

Drucker and Me


According to Bob Buford, broaching midlife doesn't have to be a crisis.

In fact, in "Half Time", Buford insists that it is actually an opportunity to begin the better half of life.

The first half is busy with "getting and gaining, earning and learning," doing what you can to survive, while clawing your way up the ladder of success.

The second half of life should be about regaining control, calling your own shots, and enjoying "God's desire ... for you to serve him just by being who you are, by using what he gave you to work with."

What lies between the two is "halftime."

Buford argues that whether you are a millionaire, a manager, or a teacher, you will one day have to transition from the struggle for success to the quest for significance.

Halftime, then, is a quiet time of deliberate decision-making, restructuring, and passionate contemplation of your heart's deepest desires.

Buford's writing is grounded in the real-life experience of success and failure, and most poignantly, the death of his son.

While he has led a very successful life in the eyes of the world, Buford's personal stories reveal that his faith in Christ is his central priority.

Instead of a transition to be feared, Buford makes midlife an introspective journey of abundance that will unleash God's best for you.

—Jill Heatherly

Halftime Contents

  • Here's what people are saying about HALFTIME
  • Preface
  • Foreword by Jim Collins ::: Good to Great and the Social Sectors
  • Foreword to First Edition by Peter Drucker
  • Introduction: Opening the Heart's Holiest Chamber
  • Part 1—The First Half
    • Listening to the Gentle Whisper
    • The Hour of Reverse Conversion
    • A Season of Searching and Self-Help
    • Success Panic
    • Locating the Mainspring
    • "Adios, Ross" (Bob's son goes missing)
  • Part 2—Halftime
    • Taking Stock
      • Halftime Drill
    • What Do You Believe?
    • Finding Your One Thing
    • From Success to Significance
    • Finding the Center and Staying There
    • Staying in the Game, But Adjusting the Plan
      • Seismic Testing
      • Low-Cost Probes
      • The Half-Speed Option
    • Overlapping Curves
    • Leaping into the Abyss
  • Part 3 The Second Half
    • Life Mission
    • Regaining Control
      • Practical Matters
        • 1. Delegate—at work, play, and home
        • 2. Do what you do best; drop the rest
        • 3. Know when to say no
        • 4. Set limits
        • 5. Protect your personal time by putting it on your calendar
        • 6. Work with people you like
        • 7. Set timetables
        • 8. Downsize
        • 9. Play around a little
        • 10. Take The Phone Off The Hook
      • Three Cardinal Principles (Peter Drucker)
        • 1. Build on the islands of health and strength
        • 2. Work only with those who are receptive to what you are trying to do
        • 3. Work only on things that will make a great deal of difference if you succeed
        • Summary: desire, capacity, unfamiliar territory, practice may be needed
      • Healthy Individualism
        • The Small Self And The Large Self
        • Individual Teammates
        • The Selfishness Of Altruism
      • Life-long Learning
        • Why Learning Is Important In The Second Half
        • What To Learn In The Second Half
        • How To Learn In The Second Half
      • Respect for Externals
        • The Role Of Authority
      • Playing for All You're Worth
      • The Money Question
      • A 50/50 Proposition
    • Frequently Asked questions
    • Questions for Reflection and Discussion (calendarize these questions—attention directing tools
      • Introduction
      • Getting started
        • Prepare
        • Select a leader (in a group context)
        • Probe for honest questions
        • Encourage accountability
        • Write down your answers to the questions and assignments
      • Introduction: Opening the Heart's Holiest Chamber
      • Part 1: The First Half
        • Chapter 1: Listening To The Gentle Whisper
        • Chapter 2: The Hour Of Reverse Conversion
        • Chapter 3: A Season Of Searching And Self-Help
        • Chapter 4: Success Panic
        • Chapter 5: Locating The Mainspring
        • Chapter 6: "Adios, Ross"
      • Part 2: Halftime
        • Chapter 7: Taking Stock
        • Chapter 8: What Do You Believe?
        • Chapter 9: Finding Your One Thing
        • Chapter 10: From Success To Significance
        • Chapter 11: Finding The Center And Staying There
        • Chapter 12: Staying In The Game, But Adjusting The Plan
        • Chapter 13: Overlapping Curves
        • Chapter 14: Leaping into the Abyss
      • Part 3: The Second Half
        • Chapter 15: Life Mission
        • Chapter 16: Regaining Control
        • Chapter 17: Healthy Individualism
        • Chapter 18: Life-Long Learning
        • Chapter 19: Respect For Externals
        • Chapter 20: Playing For All You're Worth
        • Chapter 21: The Money Question
        • Chapter 22: A 50/50 Proposition
    • The Wisdom of Peter Drucker
    • An Interview with Bob Buford
    • Acknowledgments
    • Notes
    • Selected Bibliography
    • Epilogue

Half Time series

buford books



Amazon links (work-around for browser ad blocking)





Fifteen years ago I began recording my thoughts about something that happened in my life.

Instead of facing a crisis as I approached middle age, I discovered that a new and better life lay before me.

I called the process of discovery “halftime,” and the eventual outcome of this process led to my “second half.”

The metaphor fit because, after a successful first half, I needed a break to make some changes in how I played the second.

I had plenty of success over the preceding twenty years, and I wasn’t burned out or frustrated, but I felt something was missing and I needed to change my game plan.

In retrospect I can see that I must have been divinely protected from chasing down the usual trails people take to find what was missing.

I took what I had written to a publisher who decided to turn it into a book for which he had modest expectations.

Since then, it is safe to say a movement has evolved around Halftime.

More than 500,000 people have read this book, the majority of them using it as a catalyst to, discover their own second half.

The organization I founded, Leadership Network, responded to the thousands of letters I received by creating the Halftime Group, which provides resources and coaching to personally guide others through the journey from success to significance.

People continue to buy the book in significant numbers, and the Halftime Group is busier than ever.

Apparently the still, small voice that spoke to me about changing my game plan more than twenty years ago sounds familiar to people today, so familiar that my publisher asked me to revise and update the book.

In many ways, I have changed nothing.

My message is the same today as it was in 1994: if you are approaching middle age—which can be anywhere from your late thirties well into your fifties—the very best years of your life lie ahead of you.

Whatever success you are having will never completely fulfill you.

A life of significance—of really mattering—is yours for the taking, and the process I describe in this book will work for you.

When I first wrote the book, however, few people owned cell phones and fewer still had access to the Internet.

People whose stories I’ve told have passed on to a better place, and better resources exist to help you on your way.

So I carved out some time at my farm in Tyler, Texas, to reread the book with one question in mind: if I were to start over today, what would I change?

As it turned out, not much, but enough to make this book a better resource for your journey.

New, updated stories of people who have discovered their second-half mission.

A brand-new chapter addressing the question, “How can I experience halftime if I can’t quit my job?” A revised set of questions for discussion at the end of the book.

And coaching infused with the wisdom of those who read the book and learned something new as they began their second-half adventure.

Perhaps the best feature of the original edition was the wonderful foreword my friend and mentor Peter Drucker wrote.

Sadly, Peter passed away on November 11, 2005.

His introductory words still ring true, so I have kept his foreword.

But another good friend of mine and Peter’s, bestselling author Jim Collins, has written another foreword that is every bit as good as Peter’s—a bonus for me as well as you.






Bob Buford has a peculiar genius for inspiring people to embrace discomfort.

I first met Bob in 1996 when he asked me to teach pastors from large evangelical churches.

I knew nothing about megachurches, and I wondered if I could possibly contribute to their thinking.

“All the more reason to do it!” responded Buford.

“It will force you to learn something new that you can contribute to others.

You have no idea what you will learn when you engage these church leaders and that will make you more useful.”

Bob turned out to be right about the learning adventure.

Part-way through the megachurch session, while I was encouraging pastors to create churches built to last, a hand shot up in the back.

“Jim, now why is this important?” queried a pastor from South Carolina.

“Because if you don’t think ahead about succession—if your church depends just on you and your charismatic personality—it will likely decline or fall after you leave.”

I then shared the story of a once-great company whose aging founder defined succession planning as merely prefacing a statement every month or so with “If I happen to be unavailable … “

The pastor looked at me almost with pity, as if I’d somehow missed first grade, then said in a slow, deliberate drawl, “Now, Mr. Collins, I think you’re, ah, missing a fundamental point here,” pausing for effect.

“See, our founder”—another pause—"well, he’s never unavailable.”

The room erupted into laughter, and I noticed Buford nodding at me, as if to say, “See, I told you that you’d be pushed by this and you’d be better for it.”

I went home and rethought the built-to-last ideas in the context of religious leadership, and thus began a lasting friendship that has been a continual source of renewal for me.

Buford kept pushing and challenging.

During one of our long conversations, I asked Buford (who happens to be the best emissary for Christianity I’ve yet to meet), “How did Christianity transform itself from a handful of fanatics wandering around a remote backwater of the Roman Empire into the official religion of the most powerful empire in the world three hundred years later?

To use an analogy, it would be like two dozen people starting a new religion thirty miles from Baghdad today and turning it into the official religion of the United States a century or two down the road—and doing it without any mass communication.

How did this happen?” Buford responded by asking knowledgeable Christian historians, collecting their answers, and sending me a banker’s box of data and information to read and digest—another challenge, another opportunity for learning and renewal, another Bob Buford jolt.

There is a delicious irony in Bob’s asking me to pen this foreword: I’m right smack in the middle of halftime, as I’m turning fifty.

Buford slyly got me to engage with his work at the very moment when it will do me the most good.

I do not have the answers, but Buford has given me and all those who read his book—the right question: Why capitulate to irrelevance after we’ve spent decades accumulating empirical wisdom?

In the first half of the twentieth century, people largely viewed work as a necessary evil, a way to provide security and comfort.

Then, in the 1960s, people began to demand more from their careers—they wanted meaning and a sense of purpose.

And now Bob Buford comes along with the next challenge: to think beyond the narrow bounds of a satisfying and successful career to a meaningful and useful entire life.

Here in Halftime, he asserts that the old model of arduous career followed by relaxing retirement should be jettisoned, replaced by the idea that the second half can—and should—be more creative, more impactful, more meaningful, more adventurous, and filled with more learning and contribution than the first half.

A successful first fifty years should be viewed as nothing more than a good start.

Most who read Buford’s work have already attained success and find it wanting.

And when we reach halftime, when we know we have fewer days ahead than behind—when our mentors and teachers and moms and dads begin to die—the idea of just “more success” does not answer the question, “What’s the point?” Have you answered the question, “What’s the one thing not two things, not three, not four, but the one big thing—in the box?” Have you written your own epitaph?

Have you articulated a strategy for multiplying your contribution by 100X?

Have you answered, “How much is enough?” Have you done “seismic testing” to discover where you can best be of service?

Have you organized your time around two essential elements of a complete life: self-realization and community?

If you’re ready for these questions, you’re ready for Halftime.

In puzzling over Buford’s questions, I’ve come to see two distinct approaches to self-renewal and I encourage you to consider both as you read this book.

The first lies in the late John Gardner’s idea of repotting ourselves into entirely new activities as we move from success to significance, changing our activities from career to contribution.

Gardner, former secretary of health, education, and welfare (and author of the classic Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society ), once told me that he planned to learn and grow as much between ages seventy and eighty-eight as between zero and eighteen.

When challenged, Gardner said that he knew a little bit more about learning at seventy than when he was zero.

Gardner pushed people to think about “repotting” themselves every ten to fifteen years, throwing themselves into challenges that extract hidden strengths.

Buford picks up where Gardner left off, challenging us to see that some of our most significant and meaningful contributions should come in the second half, defying the view that creativity wanes with age.

By repotting, you can recreate the sense of excitement and imagination experienced in your teens or twenties again and again and again.

Repotting also has the wonderful side benefit of slowing down time.

Think about how vivid your experience was the first few weeks of moving to a new school, new city, new company, or new country—the very newness heightened your senses and deepened your memories—compared with how you experienced the fiftieth or one hundredth week, when life had become routine.

The second path to self-renewal lies in seeing your primary activity—the same activity you’ve pursued for your first half—as the primary means to renewal.

For some, the best choice lies on the second path, choosing to renew within a chosen genre or field, much as an artist grows within his or her craft.

Beethoven didn’t reach halftime and then give up music to renew; he stayed focused and created some of his most radical, path-breaking music.

Would Beethoven been of more use giving up music to find significance?

Like Beethoven, Peter Drucker took the second path, and it is entirely fitting that Drucker wrote the first foreword to this book.

Drucker’s books fill three bookshelves at Claremont Graduate University; as a Claremont friend of mine pointed out, “Notice that his writings before age sixty-five sit on one shelf and his writings after sixty-five require two shelves.”

When I asked Peter Drucker, then age eighty-six, which of his twenty-six books he was proudest of, he responded, “The next one.”

For some, being a CEO (or a writer or a church leader or a professor) is their art, and if this describes you, the question becomes, if you’ve only written four symphonies by halftime, what will be symphonies 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9—and how can you make your ninth symphony the most extraordinary of all?

So, be forewarned before you become acquainted with Bob Buford through the pages that follow.

Do not read this book if you want your life to be easy and comfortable.

Do not read this book if you want to coast to the finish line.

Do not read this book if you want mainly to take rather than give.

But if you have a deep desire to be of use, to learn and to grow right up until the day you die, you’ll find Halftime an invigorating challenge.

The question of renewal stays with us for our entire lives.

Some answer the question with tremendous grace and creativity, becoming “seventy years young”; others, sadly, begin to age early, reaching half-seventy at “thirty-five years old.”

And while Buford has employed the halftime analogy with tremendous effect, there remains one huge difference between a sport and life: in football (or in a marathon or on a mountain climb) you know exactly when you have crossed the halfway mark.

In life you might think you have reached halftime but in fact be at mile twenty-five of the twenty-six-mile marathon, or in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, or perhaps—if fortunate—still only a third of the way up the mountain.

We only get one life, and the urgency of getting on with what we are meant to do increases every day.

The clock is ticking.

Boulder, Colorado
November 2007




Foreword to First Edition

This is a most unusual, indeed a unique, book—at least I do not know of any book that is even remotely similar.

It is immediately accessible as the autobiography of an unusual man and can be read as such with great pleasure.

It is the story of obscure beginnings, the story of a boy who, barely eleven, after his father’s early death, had to take on the burden of being the “man of the family”; a story of great hardships, of vision and determination, of sorrow and success.

While this in itself is interesting, what is unusual is that Bob Buford is one of the very few people I know who, still barely in his teens, thought through what his strengths were.

This is something that, as a rule, only a few artists do.

Even more incredible is that, when he realized that what the Lord had made him capable of doing well was very different from what he really wanted to do, he had the intellectual honesty and courage to say to himself, “It is my duty and mission to put to work what I am good at, rather than to do what I would love to do.”

To this, of course, Bob owes his success as entrepreneur and businessman.

But—and this, in my experience, is truly unprecedented—Bob never forgot his original vision and never surrendered his original values to success.

He refused to write off his youthful ambition as a child’s dream.

He kept his nose to the grindstone and yet never lost sight of the hills.

And when, after thirty years of unremitting toil, he had reached the point where he could spare some time and some money, he then thought through again how to accomplish what he had wanted to do thirty years earlier, but to do so by putting his strengths, his experience, and his knowledge to work.

At this same point, many people retire.

But Bob realized that he liked, indeed loved, his work and was very good at it.

He knew that he should keep on doing what he was doing.

But he also determined that the time had come for him to develop a parallel career in which his strengths, his knowledge, his experience—and his money—would serve his deep personal commitment to advance the kingdom of God on earth; that is, to serve Christianity in his native land.

This is unusual enough.

But at the same time, this book is far more than an autobiography.

Without preaching, without trying to be “scholarly,” without statistics and academic jargon, this book tackles the fundamental social challenge of a developed and affluent society such as ours has become.

Not so long ago, when I was born a few years before World War I, few people lived beyond what we now consider early middle age.

As late as 1929, average life expectancy in the United States was not even fifty years—and half a century earlier it had been around thirty-five.

But today the great majority of Americans—and of people in developed countries altogether—can expect to live twice as long as people could expect to live at the time of our great-grandparents.

Equally important, for the first time in history, a very large number of people can expect to be “successes”—something that in the past, was practically unknown.

Success does not necessarily mean a substantial fortune or even great worldly success.

But it does mean attaining something that those in earlier time simply did not know: achievement, perhaps as a professor in college, as a physician or lawyer, as a middle manager or professional in an organization, or as a hospital administrator—a jobs which, at the beginning of the century, either did not exist all or were so few in numbers as to be socially insignificant.

Back then, work was a living, not a life.

The worker in the steel plant, the farmer on the traditional family farm, the worker on the assembly line, the salesperson in the small mom-and-pop shop—all people in traditional employments—were perfectly ready to retire after thirty years, if only they could afford it.

They did not miss their work, since it was never anything but a means to get their next meal on the table or to pay for the children’s shoes.

Today a growing number of people expect to find what Bob Buford found: that they enjoy their work, that they become better as they become older, that they are not ready to retire even though they may have the means to do so.

A large and growing number of people—I call them “knowledge workers”—not only do much better financially than anybody in history has ever done, they do infinitely better in terms of personal fulfillment.

And yet when they reach their mid-forties, the work they know and love is no longer challenging.

They need new stimulus.

When I first became aware of this some twenty or thirty years ago, I thought that there would be an enormous number of “second career” people who would move from being, for instance, divisional controller in a big company to doing similar work in a nonprofit institution.

I was wrong—Bob Buford taught me better.

The great majority of these people do not want to leave what they are doing and what they are good at.

But they do feel the need to add what Bob calls “the other half of their lives,” what I would call “a parallel career.”

They want to find the sphere in which they can serve their values by putting to work what they’re good at, using the strengths, knowledge, and experience they’ve already gained.

These are new challenges, unprecedented ones, as I said before.

And this book is the first one, to my knowledge, that masterfully presents them and shows how to address them.

This is pioneering of a high order.

This is social analysis of a high order.

And it is also a self-help book of the highest order.

Whatever one’s values and commitments and they need not be at all those of Bob Buford—this book should be the catalyst for all those who are the beneficiaries of the two great social developments of this century: the extension of life span (especially of working life span), and the fact that it is now possible to be a “success” and to make a life out of one’s living.

This is an important political book as well.

We increasingly realize that modern government is not capable of taking care of community and social problems.

Nor is the free market.

There is a growing awareness of the need for a new sector—whether you call it “nonprofit,” “third sector,” “independent sector,” or (my own preference) “social sector.”

In this sector, citizenship as a working “volunteer” once again becomes a reality rather than a ritual consisting of voting once in a while and paying taxes.

Bob’s book indicates the solution to the major political challenge of a developed society: that middle-aged success can help restore the body politic to function, to effectiveness, and to a reaffirmation of the basic values of both democracy and community.

This is also a religious book that goes to the heart of one of America’s major challenges: the role of religion and Christianity in American society and in the life of America’s people.

Everybody knows that most of the mainstream churches in America have been steadily losing members in the last thirty or forty years.

But what is amazing is not that the churches have lost members, but that they have lost so few! For the church membership of yesterday—and yesterday means only fifty or sixty years ago—was in a good many cases the result of social compulsion rather than free choice.

When I first came to this country in the ‘30s as an American correspondent for a group of British papers, church attendance was mandatory.

The application for a mortgage that we filled out within a few weeks of our moving to this country—and in an affluent and hardly “religious” New York City suburb to boot—asked for two references, one of whom had to be the pastor of the church you attended.

If you had no such reference, you could not get a mortgage.

Even twenty-five years later, in the early ‘50s, in small town and rural America, somebody who did not go to church did not get a bank loan or a decent job.

This social pressure has now disappeared.

But although we may have expected, as a result, a catastrophic decline in church membership, the decline has been modest by any standard—let alone by comparison with Europe—and it is being counteracted by the growth of the new, large “pastoral churches” that are growing in membership two or three times faster than the conventional churches are losing members.

America, in other words, is still very much a Christian country, provided the churches learn how to serve today’s constituencies: people who do not go to church because they are virtually forced to do so, but who go to church because they prefer it to everything else.

To have seen this early was one of Bob’s great insights.

His Leadership Network worked as a catalyst to make the large, pastoral churches work effectively, to identify their main problems, to make them capable of perpetuating themselves (as no earlier pastoral church has ever been able to do), and to focus them on their mission as apostles, witnesses, and central community services.

And now he is extending this work to many churches, including midsized ones, not as a preacher but as an entrepreneur who converts latent energies into performance.

Finally, this book can—and should—be read as a story of growth from knowledge into wisdom, of intellectual and spiritual education.

Such stories are rare indeed—and far more exciting, important, and instructive than swashbuckling adventure or “romantic” derring-do.

These are the stories needed by those who have reached the middle of their life span, the ones who have become successful in the sense that they have achieved—just as the very young need the stories of heroic exploits and of romantic love.

This is, to conclude, a book that should and will be read on many levels.

It is a book that will speak differently to different people.

But it is a book that will have meaning and message for all those who open its pages.

September 1, 1994




The Wisdom of Peter Drucker

by Bob Buford

As a young CEO in a rapidly changing cable television industry, I knew I needed a perspective wider than my own.

The year was 1984, and I had already become an ardent fan of the writing of Peter Drucker, so I decided to take a chance and see if he would be willing to consult with me.

Thus began a wonderful relationship that continued until his death in 2005.

As you probably have already discovered from this book, his influence on my life finds its way into nearly everything I have written, and if you have ever heard me speak you know that I cannot get very far into my comments without referencing this remarkable man.

Peter Drucker is the “intellectual father” of nearly all that guides my philanthropy.

In 1997, Atlantic Monthly editor Jack Beatty interviewed me for two hours for a book he was writing, The World According to Peter Drucker.

That entire interview was distilled into only six words from me that truly describe our relationship:

“He’s the brains, I’m the legs.”

At the time of his death, at age ninety-five, Peter had taught for more than thirty years at California’s Claremont Graduate School, where the Management Center is named after him.

In addition to his career as a management professor—which includes twenty years at New York University—he published more than thirty books as well as articles for the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and many other periodicals—over four million words altogether!

Peter approached his teaching, writing, and consulting as a journalist doing an in-depth story.

He had an unparalleled grasp of the big picture and could tell you why the story was significant.

He had the realism of a newsman but the ideals of a philosopher and the heart of a quietly committed Christian.

It would be difficult to capture in this brief space all that I have learned from Peter, but here are the highlights, especially as they relate to the halftime journey:

Mission Comes First

Largely due to his influence, “mission statements” are in vogue in most businesses today.

But for Peter, a mission statement is more than ambitious intentions to be framed and hung on the board room wall.

It is what drives everything the company does — for example

Whether he was talking to CEOs, pastors, managers, or individuals contemplating a halftime experience, his counsel was always the same,

“Don’t ask ‘what should I do,’ but ‘what needs doing?’”

According to Peter, good intentions (“I want to do something significant”) is only a starting point.

The goal is results and performance that fulfills a clearly stated mission—something that needs doing—something that creates value for a customer. check this out

Peter told me over and over, “All results are on the outside.

On the inside is only cost and effort.”

(calendarize this?)

Also see

bbx Mission

bbx The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization

bbx How to guarantee non-performance

bbx Management by Objectives — a user’s guide

Find “objectives” on this page

Build on Islands of Health and Strength

When I began thinking about how I could focus my energy, talents, and resources on a more significant second half, I intuitively knew I wanted to work with churches.

It was Peter who helped me see that I could accomplish more for God’s Kingdom by working with larger, successful churches because these healthy institutions influence thousands of other churches.

My mission was to release the latent energy in the church, and he showed me I could accomplish more and in less time by focusing on larger churches who had huge resources of latent energy just waiting to be released.

“Work only on things that will make a great deal of difference if you succeed,” he once told me.

Similarly, Peter believed that individuals need to engage in second half careers built on the strengths and talents they already have.

The World is Full of Options

You do not have to reinvent (read this) yourself for a successful halftime; instead, you need to find ways to deploy your “best self” in new and significant ways.

(calendarize this?)

Focus on Opportunities, Not Problems

According to Peter, most organizations assign their best resources to problems when, instead, they should direct their best people, thinking, and resources to find and exploit opportunities.

Peter once told me, “Life is not that long.

You can spend your whole life working with people who are receptive to what you want to do.”

He taught me not to spend priceless time being “against” or trying to convince people to do what they really didn’t want to do.

It was my work to find and connect energetic leaders who were receptive to the body of ideas called “Management” in order to build and multiply their growing, high energy churches.

For the individual, Peter felt the most effective way to self renewal was to look for unexpected success and build on it.

Peter taught me not to curse the darkness, but to run towards the light.

(calendarize this?)

See opportunities

Organization efforts: Problems or Opportunities

The “Parallel Career”

Peter was fascinated with the huge transition facing the Baby Boomers as they approached midlife.

He accurately predicted that retirement would become increasingly unattractive to vibrant, healthy people who, as they approached their sixties, had reason to expect at least another twenty years of capacity and did not want to spend it in a rocking chair.

It was Peter who helped me understand the concept of the “parallel career”—continuing with your present career as you explore new opportunities for the second half.

Most people are unable to quit their “day job” and head into halftime, so the parallel career offers a realistic transition and eventually replaces the primary career.

No surprises

(calendarize this?)

The Shift from Industrial Work to Knowledge Work

Peter saw this coming well before we entered the “information age” and called it the most extreme societal change in recorded history.

Previous generations really could not expect a vibrant and productive “second half” because their daily work simply wore them out.

After twenty-five to thirty years working in a factory, tilling the fields, building highways, and so on, retirement was not only well earned but necessary.

And brief, due to shorter life expectancy. (a change in the human condition)

Today, most workers sit at desks, attend meetings, negotiate the Internet, and conduct business on cell phones—all using the same tool to grow their businesses: knowledge.

By the time you hit your forties, you may be burnt out or sensing the need for a change, but physically you have yet to hit your peak and have at least another twenty-five years of high energy capacity before you.

This one change is what led Peter to be so optimistic about the idea of halftime and predicted what has already begun happening: more and more successful people entering a second half of significance.

Managing Oneself — a revolution in human affairs

(calendarize this?)

Planned Abandonment

Peter felt it was just as important—maybe more important—to decide what not to do as it was to decide what to do.

Rick Warren, who also benefited from Peter’s counsel, calls this “the power of no.”

The human tendency, largely driven by ego, is to believe we can do it all.

When people approach me with a request to help them with a particularly exciting project, I have to recall Peter’s advice to “get rid of investments in management ego” for projects that yield little results for the customer.

It may be humbling to admit there are only a few things you do really well, but once you accept that fact, you will free yourself to focus on those things which will lead to greater personal success and significance.

See planned abandonment

(calendarize this?)

The Role of the Social Sector

Most people think of Peter Drucker as the “father of modern management,” which he was (though he was never very comfortable with that description).

And while it’s true that most of the very successful corporations owe a lot of their success to him, Peter increasingly turned his attention to the social sector—nonprofit organizations whose role is to look after the social needs of a culture.

Peter felt strongly that while government has a critical role to play as policy maker, standard setter, and paymaster, it should not attempt to run social services because it has proven to be almost totally incompetent in that area.

He also believed it was not a primary role of business to provide for the social needs of citizens.

Instead, nonprofit agencies—of which more than fifty percent are churches and faith-based organizations—have the greatest potential for doing the greatest good.

But as Peter would often say, “Don’t mistake potential for performance,” and devoted a great deal of his time helping the social sector, including churches, becoming more effective by becoming better managers.

I know that some have criticized larger churches for becoming more “businesslike” by adopting modern management principles, but Peter was adamant that the function of management is to make the church more churchlike, not make it more businesslike.

(calendarize this?)

He saw such huge potential within churches to care for the social needs of the nation (see chapter titled “Citizenship Through the Social Sector” in Post-Capitalist Society) , especially within the ranks of Baby Boomers who will be looking for more meaningful options to retirement.

The Importance of the Customer

Peter was fond of three basic questions he would ask over and over:

What is your business? (concerns contribution not product or service name and applies to all institutions of society)

Who is your customer? (not the same thing as who is your target customer)

What does your customer value? (what’s humanly important to them—really what’s their behavior and not just their words)

To Peter, these three questions needed to be asked by the church as well.

He believed an organization begins to die the day it begins to run for the benefit of the insiders and not for the benefit of the customers.

Over the years, Leadership Network (, the organization I founded when I entered my second half, has gone through several strategic changes (see organization evolution), many that were initiated by returning to those three questions.

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The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization

The Definitive Drucker


Becoming an Adult

Peter once said to me, “The beginning of adult life is when you ask the question, ‘What do I want to be remembered for?’”

Essentially, this is the question of halftime.

It speaks of legacy more than accomplishments and gets at the heart of significance.

Nothing focuses your attention on legacy more than trying to write your own epitaph, which I shared with you in the Introduction (Opening the Heart’s Holiest Chamber) to this book.

It forces you, while in good health and decades ahead of you, to think about what matters most to you (after some serious exploration and thinking.

(calendarize this?)

Peter was unconstrained by party, ideology, or prejudice. He was not, to use his own words, "a prisoner of his own predispositions." He taught me to recognize the need for continuous innovation; to always try to see things from different perspectives. He was, as he said in his book, Adventures of a Bystander, "Born to look. Meant to see." (Connections: Attention and Mental Patterns)

And because his vision was so clear, my life has been enriched beyond measure.

Also see The Unfashionable Kierkegaard.

The tools of Calendarization, Conceptual Resource Digestion Process, and Concepts to Daily Action will surely be valuable in navigating your journey in the second half of your life.

Half Time series

buford books



Amazon links (work-around for browser ad blocking)


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself (PDF) is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving relentlessly toward unimagined futures.



What’s the next effective action on the road ahead


It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then working out a plan for coping with what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting pointThe memo THEY don't want you to see



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